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Original band playing covers?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by need4mospd, Mar 2, 2006.

  1. need4mospd


    Dec 22, 2005
    I'm in a kickass new original band right now, playing a funky-rock type of music. We've been playing with some different covers and I'm REALLY not feeling them. Not to mention they don't fit in with our original music at all. We're taking time away from writing original music to practice these songs and I think our original music might suffer because we are learning these other songs. There really isn't too much out there that sounds like us, so picking covers is pretty hard. I'd say we've got an Incubus(minus the DJ) plus Hendrix type of mix.

    My question would be, is there any reason we should even be playing covers as an original band? Will the covers benifit us in any way, or will it just slow down our goals of becoming a good local all-original band? The band as a whole would rather do all original, but we've got this feeling that we need covers to make people happy and so people will let us play.

    Band history: Guitarist and Volcalist got together in mid 05 and have written 14+ songs. Drummer joined in late 05. I joined this January. We haven't played a gig yet. Now that we have our 14 or so originals down OK, we are toying with the covers. Then we'll try to start gigging.

    Any and all input would be helpful!
  2. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Doing some covers will likely get you more gigs for sure. I also tend to somewhat judge a band by what covers they choose to do. To me it shows influence. It doesnt have to be necessarily the same as your original stuff, but it should more or less fit. You might try talking your band into doing something original with the covers you do, make them your own. Or do something funny, like my friends band covers Ghost Busters for example, and they are a funk band. The usually please the crowds, and open them up some to listen to what you have to offer of your own.
  3. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    I agree.

    However, if you try covers do NOT water them down. I've seen good original bands do covers where the signature pieces AREN'T THERE. Sure, just us players would notice these things but if you are going to do covers, do it right.

    If you do twist them around, make sure you don't skip the signatures and feel free to add to the parts.

    Ex: I saw a 4-piece cover Magic Carpet Ride and they just did the verses..they skipped the solo part. Tasteless, I say!

    My .02 worth,

  4. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    If you are an orignal band doing some covers, make them fit your style. Many bands that do covers follow the original too strictly. Following the original 1-to-1 is fine for a 100% tribute band, but in your case it should be adapted (metal covers for ABBA songs rule! :p ).
    This matter should be discussed with your band IMO.
  5. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Covers are really nice to pull the crowd back in, especially if there's a "lull" in the set - maybe a couple of slow songs that for whatever reason didn't hit home like normal? They're also nice to have if you need to pull something out of a hat to fill out a set. The crowd participation is also a definite plus.

    You'll also get the obligatory requests from the crowd, regardless of if you're an original band or not. It's nice to occasionally be able to play those requests. We have fans that insist upon requesting our (original) closing tunes halfway into the first set... We can usually keep them at bay for a while, but at the last gig, our "Fan club president" grabbed my set list from off the stage and crossed off the next three songs to fast forward to what she wanted to hear! Lol...

    Covers are a great place to introduce the band. Again, they draw people in, and make them care about who's taking 4 bars of solo where.

    Covers make solid intros and solid closers, if you need them. Right now, we're using the signature riff of "We Got the Funk" as an instrumental intro - and then lead it right into our opening song. We've had a cover as our de facto "encore song" for months.

    Oh, and I don't care what genre you play... you need to be able to play "Sweet Home Alabama"... :bag:
  6. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    haha. we dont have a guitarist so i had to learn this on six string bass.
  7. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    The band I was just bumped from fought over this issue a lot. The 2 gits, drum and singer have been together since 1996, lost their bassist in 2002 and went on hiatus, I joined in 2004.

    So the guitarists don't want to do any covers -- they want to be purely original. Drummer and singer are mood followers, so when the guitarists start ranting about being originals-only, the drummer and singer join in. When we talk about needing to beef up the set, they join in on supporting covers.

    In any event, my whole take on it was this: all originals is great. But then we've gotta be really productive on the writing front. After two years together, we had a 19 originals (about half from their earlier days together). Great. But that meant that every show involved 16+ of those same 19 originals. And we had three covers that we played at EVERY show. So people were getting bored -- we didn't venture far from a few repeat venues. So my comment was, we're good enough to crank out a dozen covers -- we can practice them on our own, and just polish up the timing in rehearsals. And then use those to pad the set while we keep working on new material. Once we get to the point where we can do shows every weekend and have the sets be at least 50-60% different from show to show, then we can cut back on covers. I thought I was being practical. But they couldn't accept that. So we sat and didn't write new material, didn't learn any new covers, and stopped booking shows...deadlock.


  8. need4mospd


    Dec 22, 2005
    We've talked it over now. We've all decided that original music is where our hearts are. We'll learn maybe 10 covers from different genres, but only play 1-3 a show sprinkled in with the originals. We've got 14 originals now and about 6 covers. We're looking to add another few really good covers and ramp up our original song writing.

    On top of that, we just booked our first gig on April 15th! 45 minute set, we'll do only 1 cover as we want to get as much of our originals out there as we can.
  9. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    Gotta throw two more cents in :)

    Consider this:

    If you're just starting out, there are no expectations yet, and you have no track record yet. So, this is the time that using covers to demonstrate you skill and give people a reference point to assess your music, as some folks mentioned above, is especially effective.

    The other thing -- it's totally exciting to get out and start playing the stuff you've been writing, but if you were able to hold back 2 or 3, you could break those out at subsequent shows -- that is, you could have new material for every return engagement at a venue...of course, if your writing is going well and you're not worried about coming up short on new material, that's not as big of a deal. But looking back, I wish we'd started slower and unveiled new material progressively over the months -- then when we hit our dry spell, it wouldn't have been so tedious...


  10. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    One bad part of being an original band is almost always being doomed to playing short sets. It's fairly rare to see an original band playing a 3 or 4 hour bar gig, IMHO.

    By the same token, I don't recall the last time I saw a purely cover band play a 30 minute set. Hmmm...
  11. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    the guys I used to play with talked about the days that they'd play 3-4 hour shows...but apparently the second halfs of those shows were always all impromptu 12 bar shuffle...
  12. I'm not certain about ALL original clubs/bars, but in the California and Detroit area ORIGINAL clubs I"ve played at, I would say ALL ORIGINALS, For these reasons: Generally 3 to 4 bands a night, around 40-50 minute sets...I don't think you can fit more that around 9-12 songs in a set that length and if you play too long and the crown doesn't know you well (except your friends) you may over stay your welcome. I say leave them wanting another song, not wishing you would have finished 2 songs ago ! I've read the attention span is really only good for 30-40 minutes anyway, and unless you have radio hits, videos and or a large, rabid fan base etc. Just a possible thing to think about, but you know your club scene best. Lots of covers are for cover bars or cover nights, and you want your originals greased and connecting with the crowd, not someone ELSE'S songs. Perhaps one cover, worked over a bit to fit the style of your band best. I feel doing covers accurately to the original is an art, but better for a cover band to tackle, if they do their cover tunes that way. Also rotating all those originals around will allow you to find the best set, or type of set and the songs that go over the best with an audience. Too many ballads (again to me) can loose the audience; pick your BEST mellow song, and try to keep the energy going, vibe wise, and do end the set/show with possibly your best song...You'll feel like a star with everyone going nuts and it certainly doesn't hurt for future bookings. Oh SO many opinions on this subject!
  13. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    need you to go have a talk with my old band :D (incidentally, that's why they're my OLD band...sigh...)
  14. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Man, I remember my first (and last) "bar gig". We came in with no opener, no "real" rehearsal (just a friend of mine and me on acoustic guitars)... We were going to play for 4 hours - 9 to 1 - 4 sets.

    We had agreed that we'd do 2 sets together, and then each take one set. Well, turns out my buddy doesn't like to actually prepare music, so I end up playing the majority of it. Around 11:30, I had gone through my setlist with all of my originals, covers, etc, and was beginning to pull out songs that I barely even remembered that I knew. Luckily (for us), the bar crowd died around midnight (it was a Thursday night), so the bar owner came up and paid us around 12:30 as I was floundering around trying to come up with material (I think I was resigned to instrumentals at this point, after repeating some of the stronger tunes on my setlist).

    My buddy felt horrible about being so unprepared and so he let me have the door, which was nice. I haven't done a gig with him since, though.

    Anyway, that's my only experience with trying to stretch out originals to a long show. Right now, we're rocking 20 originals and about 6-10 covers in our master setlist. We usually bring it down to 16-18 total for a 2 hour set (depending on crowd participation).